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Monday December 4th 2023

Los Angeles for Film Fans: Westside & Malibu 4

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Malibu Sunset
Sunset on Pacific Highway 1 at Malibu

From here, take a trip west along the Pacific Coast Highway toward Malibu.

The city of Malibu, which includes 21 miles of famously beautiful coast, gets its name from the Chumash, the original Native American settlers, who called it, with amazing prescience, Humaliwo – which means "the surf sounds loudly".

At Malibu Lagoon State Beach, 23200 Pacific Coast Highway, an estuary at the mouth of Malibu Creek, is the famed Surfrider Beach – home to Gidget, Beach Blanket Bingo and those crazy surfing movies of the 1960s.

Geoffrey’s, 27400 Pacific Coast Highway, is the clifftop terrace restaurant, at which Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) greets Burt Reynolds (“Asshole!”) in Robert Altman’s The Player.

It’s on the Paradise Cove Pier, 28128 Pacific Coast that Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson kiss and make up after coming to terms with Robert Redford’s Indecent Proposal. The pier was also transformed into the 'Michigan' lakefront beach resort in American Pie 2.

Westward Beach, between Zuma Beach and Point Dume, on the western side of Malibu, is used in four striking – though very different – closing scenes.

Robert Aldrich’s 1955 thriller Kiss Me Deadly ends with the opening of a mysterious box In a Malibu beach house, which triggers a bizarrely slow-acting nuclear explosion.

The strange blaze of light as the box is opened at the end of Kiss Me Deadly has been referenced by several films, including Alex Cox’s Repo Man and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Rock Walk, Guitar Center, 7425 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood's answer to Grauman's forecourt – the Rock Walk

The house goes up in a spectacular fireball yet, there it is – intact – seven years later at the climax of a film by the same director.

“So we could have been friends all along?” realises Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) as sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) spills the beans at the end of psycho-shocker turned camp classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? As Blanche croaks and Jane buys ice cream, the Kiss Me Deadly beach house is instantly recognisable in the background. It's gone now, of course.

Westward is also the site of the strangely disturbing final scene of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Barton Fink as the disillusioned writer (John Turturro) stares mournfully out to sea, with his own sinister box, trapped in the world of the mysterious painting.

And so to the climactic twist that ends the original Planet of the Apes, as astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston) enters the Forbidden Zone, on the far southeastern end of Westward Beach, at the great promontory of Point Dume. Cross the wide curving beach and clamber over the rocks to the east until you get to the quiet, and often deserted, little cove surrounded by cliffs, where Taylor makes his shocking discovery.

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